After commissioning Wiel Arets with a masterplan extension as big as itself, the City of Groningen decided to commission Toyo Ito with a super-masterplan aimed at turning both halves into one again. Toyo Ito proposed Bluemoon, an operation where one project in the inner city and another in the future extension will be commissioned to four different architects to trigger virtual links between both extensions to stitch them back together.
We were given two sites: one in the Schuitenwerksquartier, an area historically characterised by boat traffic, sluices, docks, and pensions and facilities for the travellers and the merchandises arriving to the city, to be used for residential use. The other lays in the future extension, located in the former location of the power plants that used to feed Groningen with electricity. Next to the railroad tracks, at the entrance to the new area to be developed, the site is to be used for a temporary train station, and a marketplace.
The links were not difficult to identify. Programmatically, our proposal was to create facilities for the travellers, the temporary inhabitants of Groningen, traders, tourists or drifters. Tectonically, we will use the paradigmatic nomadic material: fabrics.
Hence, the site in the inner city, a 5x5m, four story tower by regulation, became an aparthotel with three open plan suites, clad in insulated silver fabric. Like in a tent or a sleeping bag, the facade features a pattern of openings that will allow the nomadic inhabitants to reconfigure their dens similar to the zipping and unzipping of a sleeping bag to suit their needs, from total enclosure to total openness. Some solar panels of the roof will provide energy to climatise the tower, or to supply energy to the city when possible, to reverse the relationship between the inner city and the former power plant.
For the site in Europapark, the future extension of Groningen, we proposed a kind of large tent printed with a camouflage pattern that mimics the colours of the local vegetation, as an artificial green canopy to cover markets, passengers, events and beer gardens on the edge of the former cooling pool of the power plants.